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9

Saudi Gazette, Saturday, January 21, 2017

Economy

Centro Shaheen: Jeddah’s newest destination for young and hip travelers

R

OTANA, one of the lead-

ing hotel management

companies in the Middle

East, Africa, South Asia and

Eastern Europe, is expanding its

presence across the region with

15 new hotels and resorts sched-

uled to open by the end of 2017.

With the debut of the chain’s

new lifestyle property in Jeddah,

Centro Shaheen, Rotana’s impact

could carry a wallop in redefin-

ing the culture of travel and

hospitality in the Kingdom and

across the region.

While the current wave of

luxury hotel development in

Saudi Arabia is aimed at provid-

ing top-quality accommodations

for both business and leisure

travelers, luxury and comfort do

not have to come with astronom-

ical price tags. Indeed, Centro

Shaheen Jeddah is designed to

appeal to smart travelers, who

demand functionality and afford-

ability without sacrificing com-

fort and style. The hotel brings

the ethos of the Rotana brand to

a contemporary setting that is

young and fresh in its approach,

original in its presentation and

dynamic in its offerings.

“Style has become the

byword of our time,” said

Mohamad Haj Hassan, area vice

president KSA, Sudan, Egypt,

Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan and

Bahrain, “With chic looks and

slick delivery underlying its

high-standard service offering,

Centro is an inspired concept that

sets an unparalleled benchmark

for the traveller who appreciates

style and sophistication”.

“Centro’s rooms and suites

have been keenly designed and

furnished to optimize comfort,

efficiency and style and are vari-

ously configured to suit the needs

of guests. All rooms feature the

latest in lighting options, large-

screen TVs, Wi-Fi and all the in-

room amenities that have come to

be expected from quality lodgings

worldwide,” added Haj Hassan.

Dinning and delightful mo-

ments are both well counted in

the hotel concept. Centro Sha-

heen Jeddah houses three dining

outlets: ‘c.deli’, an innovative

24-hour grab-and-go dining

place offering guests delicious

food and quick snacks, ‘c-taste’,

an energetic, modern upbeat and

fun restaurant offering superiorly

delicious buffet over breakfast,

lunch and dinner, in addition to

an a la carte menu, ‘Sushi Cen-

tro’, a new take on contemporary

Japanese cuisine with funky

vibes for casual dining.

A relaxing pool place and

a state-of-the-art gym are also

made available for Centro

Shaheen in-house guests pursu-

ing refreshment and special and

quality relief.

Centro Shaheen is the first

property under Centro hotels by

Rotana brand to open in Jed-

dah. Conveniently located on

Madinah Road, the hotel is close

to shopping malls and Jeddah’s

commercial centers, and is and

only 5 minutes’ drive away to the

renovated Jeddah Corniche.

Rotana recently confirmed

plans to additionally open new

hotel properties in Saudi Arabia

in 2017 under the “Centro by

Rotana” brand, these include

Centro Waha, Riyadh; Centro

Olaya, Riyadh; Centro Corniche,

Al Khobar; and Centro Salama,

Jeddah.

Conveniently located just 20

minutes from King Abdulaziz

International Airport, Centro

Shaheen Jeddah brings up a sleek

and stylish 252 rooms, optimally

designed and furnished to offer

complete comfort and efficiency.

With its easy access to Jed-

dah’s booming business and

commercial districts, including

fashionable Tahlia Street and

city’s numerous convention,

trade and shopping sites, Centro

Shaheen Jeddah is well posi-

tioned to present its guests with a

practical and a convenient stay.

Centro Shaheen Jeddah plays

a partner role to business travel-

ers who will appreciate the ho-

tel’s two, fully-equipped meeting

rooms, numerous informal meet-

ing spaces, secretarial support

available and high-speed Wi-Fi

access throughout the hotel.

A relaxing pool place and

a state-of-the-art gym are also

made available for Centro

Shaheen in-house guests pursu-

ing refreshment and special and

quality relief.

— SG

Lobby

Exterior Night

Entranc

e

2KUZE will deliver a mobile payment solution to East Africa’s farmers. On right, 2KUZE gives farmers access to more buyers, enables them to run a more profitable business and paves the way to a cashless

agricultural sector.— Courtesy photos

Mastercard launches

mobile marketplace

to digitize E-Africa’s

agricultural sector

M

ASTERCARD launched

2KUZE, a digital platform that

connects smallholder farmers,

agents, buyers and banks in East Africa.

2KUZE, which in Swahili means

‘Let’s grow together,’ enables farmers to

buy, sell and receive payments for agri-

cultural goods via their feature phones.

The platform brings the benefits and

security of mobile commerce and pay-

ments to farmers in Kenya, Uganda and

Tanzania.

2KUZE was developed at the

Mastercard Lab for Financial Inclusion

in Nairobi, which was set up in 2015

to develop practical and cost-effective

financial tools that expand access and

help build stable futures for more than

100 million people globally.

Through an $11 million grant from

the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,

the Lab is working with East African

entrepreneurs, governments and other

stakeholders to develop local products

rooted in the company’s global know-

how.

In the initial pilot, 2KUZE is being

launched in partnership with Caf-direct

Producers Foundation, a non-profit orga-

nization working with 300,000 small-

holder farmers globally.

Currently, 2,000 small-scale farmers

in Nandi Hills, Kenya, are currently us-

ing the solution to sell their produce and

working with farmer-friendly agents to

ensure they reach the right buyers for the

best price.

“Eighty percent of farmers in Africa

are classified as smallholder farmers

having less than 1-2 acres of farming

land, making it extremely difficult to

drive growth and prosperity within this

community,” said Daniel Monehin, divi-

sion president for Sub-Saharan Africa

and head of financial inclusion for Inter-

national Markets at Mastercard.

“We believe that by using mobile, a

technology that is so ubiquitous among

farmers in Africa, we can improve

financial access, bring in operational ef-

ficiency and facilitate faster payments.

“The collaboration between the Lab

team and farmers in the market helped

to deliver a solution that can be imple-

mented and make an impact without any

major changes to the day-to-day.”

2KUZE makes transacting much

safer and simpler for all stakeholders

in the agricultural supply chain — the

farmer, the buyer and the agent.

Farmers using 2KUZE can conduct

the entire transaction of selling produce

and receiving payments via their feature

phones, without having to walk for hours

to the markets.

This enables farmers to capture a

greater percentage of the wholesale

value of their goods by providing price

transparency, more direct access to buy-

ers and empowerment of farmer-friendly

agents.

This solution in particular sup-

ports women farmers, who often have

household duties that prevent them from

leaving the farm gate and are more often

subject to having to take whatever deal

is given to them on the day.

Digitizing these transactions in a

trusted, auditable environment provides

a legitimate financial footprint, opening

up access to loans and other financial

services, and also introducing a more

efficient process that benefits the entire

value chain, as well as the overall

economy.

Mastercard Lab is exploring the

potential for 2KUZE to help farming

communities receive the right level

of investment and to encourage more

efficient ways of doing business with

smallholder farmers.

2KUZE is one of several broad-

based collaborations on which the

Mastercard Lab for Financial Inclusion

is working.

The Lab was established in Africa to

contribute to the company’s global com-

mitment to connect 500 million people

to formal financial services through the

use of public-private partnerships with

governments, the private sector and non-

governmental organizations.

Mastercard is a technology com-

pany in the global payments industry.

It operates the world’s fastest payments

processing network, connecting consum-

ers, financial institutions, merchants,

governments and businesses in more

than 210 countries and territories.

Mastercard’s products and solutions

make everyday commerce activities —

such as shopping, traveling, running

a business and managing finances —

easier, more secure and more efficient

for everyone.

— SG